The first week of December shows a lot more international payments activity, with this week’s news spotlighting shifts in Australia, China, the Netherlands, Africa and Germany.
When Apple Pay was launched in Australia last month, the fact that only Amex cards were supported was unusual. (And statements from MasterCard that cash in Australia is losing to mobile and contactless raised more questions than they answered.) But some of the explanations for that situation are now becoming clear.
The lack of Apple Pay support from Australia’s four largest banks is “anti-competitive behavior” and “denies consumer access to a secure, efficient payment platform” and is stopping consumers from “the ability to make payment choices that are openly available to consumers globally,” according to a letter a Labor Department official sent to the Australian Reserve Bank and the Australian Bankers Association.
And a research report published Wednesday (Dec. 2) said the profile of Amex shoppers is far more compelling than those shoppers’ MasterCard and Visa counterparts. “Over half (52 percent) of Amex credit card holders (non-bank issued) have an iPhone, well ahead of MasterCard holders (36 percent) and Visa (35 percent). ING Direct leads the banks in iPhone ownership with 47 percent but the big four banks are well behind, with Westpac and ANZ on 36 percent, followed by NAB (35 percent) and CBA (34 percent),” the report from Roy Morgan Research said. “Holders of Amex cards (non-bank issued) spend an average of $4,560 per month on cards overall, well ahead of MasterCard ($2,870) and Visa ($2,940). The challenge for Amex is to capture more of their cardholders’ spend, which currently amounts to $1,980 per month or around 43 percent of their total card spend. The average monthly spend on MasterCard by comparison is $1,710 (60 percent of potential) and average spend on Visa is $1,790 (61 percent of potential). Amex card-holders are nearly twice as likely as other card-holders to have made a purchase using a mobile phone. This will obviously make them more likely to take up Apple Pay.”
Yet another mobile payment players is testing public transit (Apple Pay and MasterCard are offering free rides on the London Underground), with Vodafone Netherlands confirming the pilot.
“The company said it has been given the go ahead to initiate the national pilot, in partnership with Dutch operator KPN, payments company Translink and transport companies in the Netherlands, based on 200 people testing the technology in the coming months,” according to a report in Mobile World Live.
Although it’s well known that the rate of transaction growth in less industrialized economies will be much larger than with established economies, the latest mobile payment figures out of Africa are triple.
CMA Holdings Director Sid Wahi said the growth is partly because of the weakened nature of Africa’s infrastructure. “Mobile telephony’s revenue as a percentage of GDP in Africa is three times the norm in developed economies. Mobile technology has a remarkable impact on Africa’s development by connecting people who previously had limited access due to scarcity of fixed line infrastructure,” Wahi said, according to a report in NewsDay. “Implementing new technology is one of the top investment priorities for African chief executive officers and business models will undergo changes based on technological integration. The Internet will create productivity gains across multiple sectors in Africa.”
The QR-code-based system was unable to attract enough customers, said Yapital Executive Director Marc Berg.
“At the moment, it is simply impossible to forecast business performance in this segment accurately – and above all, the development of the number of end-consumers,” Berg said, according to a report in The Merkle. “While we were already talking about the mobile-payment breakthrough three years ago, today studies indicate there are currently only 200,000 users in Germany.”
Chinese consumers that use the WeChat mobile messaging platform will shortly be able to use the social engine for global payments, according to a report in The South China Morning Post.
“In extending its payment services portfolio, the app is taking a cue from Alipay, which runs under e-commerce giant Alibaba’s affiliate Ant Financial. Alipay has already made its mobile payments service available to merchants outside of China,” the story said. “WeChat has 650 million active users, a whopping 60 per cent of whom now use WeChat Wallet, its payment system. After linking their bank account to the app, they can use their phone to make transactions at Uniqlo, 7-11 and a range of popular stores.”